A well-designed and written electronic newsletter is an effective, inexpensive way to maintain close contact with blog subscribers. Other than your time, it’s cheap or free to produce and distribute, and a powerful tool to add value, showcase your books and your blog, enhance your credibility and keep your name in the minds of your subscribers. Better yet, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to make it happen. All it takes is an email subscriber database, a sound plan, solid ideas and sources for content, a proofreader and – “Send!”
1. Establish a long-term game plan. Smart advance planning will help you tie your e-newsletter campaigns in with your blog and all your other strategic marketing efforts. You can’t just pull the trigger on a single e-newsletter and expect good results. This type of marketing is a commitment that will pay off over time, and it works best when you create a long-term strategy before you send the first issue.
2. Options: Mailchimp, iContact, Constant Contact, Aweber, Feedblitz. All these e-newsletter systems are reasonably priced or free and offer some degree of analytics so you can track statistics such as which sends are opened most. Choose one and go for it. Aweber and Mailchimp seem to be the most popular, and author Toby Neal shared a great guest post with my readers about Mailchimp’s benefits. I’ve used iContact and I think it’s a little clunky, but what do I know? iContact does have an autoresponder function that allows you to program sends, like an automatic email to “greet” new subscribers as they sign up.
3. Test different messages, content and formats. Although it’s best to have a professional create a beautiful branded banner for your e-newletter, you can try different ideas in overall layout, content, packaging, and offers. Research what has (and has not) worked for others, then experiment with various approaches until you hit the mark and get the desired response.
4. Include at least one call to action. It’s not enough to simply email the piece, you must also give specific instructions about what you want subscribers to do after they read it, and it shouldn’t JUST be “buy my book.” Examples: “Please forward this message to your friends,” or “Download the first chapter of my work in progress – free!” or, “Link here to preview the book club questions that accompany my new release!” Don’t forget to direct readers to your website, blog, Facebook page, Google+ and Twitter accounts in every issue.
5. Grab the reader’s attention in the subject line and headline. Take care not to sound like a salesman, or your message will end up in the e-trash. There’s a fine line between generating excitement and using too much hype. In the body of your message, avoid scammy copy and over-done pitches that sound like junk mail, such as “no obligation,” and “best book you’ll ever read,” which might … uh, put the reader off.
6. Say NO! to bad copywriting, poor grammar and shoddy proofing. Don’t allow your e-newsletters to go out without a thorough proofing. This is without a doubt one of the most important elements of your entire campaign. Your name is on every send, and people will form an impression of you (and your business, and the quality of your books) based on what they see. Present yourself accordingly. You don’t need to create the slickest marketing ever, but your campaigns must look professional and reflect and enhance your brand.
7. Include a testimonial. Third party endorsements are an extremely valuable tool, one that will help boost credibility for your services, your blog, your website and your books. If a potential reader doesn’t feel comfortable, they may choose not to move forward with whatever it is you’d like them to do. That’s when a good endorsement can smooth the way. Take advantage of the power of testimonials by including one in the sidebar of your e-newsletter.
8. Keep your target audience in mind. If your subscriber list is composed of readers, talk about things that will be important to readers (not the agonizing process of self-publishing). On the other hand, if you’re offering a service that’s valuable to authors (and um, you shouldn’t be targeting authors if you want to sell your fiction novels) discuss things that are important to authors. Like instructions about how to clone themselves so they can get everything done.
9. Don’t skimp on quality. Poor design, bad copy, gimmicky pitches and offers that don’t add value will only make readers unsubscribe. Don’t bother to send anything if it smacks of a self-absorbed message cobbled together on the cheap. Bottom line: If you’re going to plan, budget for, and implement a long-term e-newsletter campaign, show your subscribers you’re putting them first right from the start.
10. For goodness sakes, ADD VALUE! Okay, if I haven’t made enough of a point about this, let’s review again. The only way people will want to continue to read your messages over time is if you share something that has some sort of value to THEM. Your job is to dissect the mind of your subscribers and discover what they want. Hint #1: messages that consist of “buy my book!” “buy my book!” “buy my book!” don’t add value. Hint #2: Study what other authors do, ask your subscribers, form marketing groups with your peers, hire professionals to help you. All these approaches equal success!
Simple E-newsletter Tricks:
- Your subject line should be short and as attention-grabbing as possible
- Begin with concise, snappy blurbs describing your letter’s content
- Write copy that is concise, direct and to the point
- Include a link to your web page, a link to your email address and a link to your e-newsletter sign-up
• Jane Friedman: Why I Stopped Using Feedburner to Serve My Blog Subscribers
• An interesting E-newsletter Service Comparison Chart.
Hey guys, please take a minute and share what you’ve learned with your own newsletter and/or email projects! I can use all the help I can get. What’s worked for you and what hasn’t?
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